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BURNS NIGHT

The Story of Burns Night


On or around January 25, his believed birthday, the life and work of Scottish poet Rabbie Burns is celebrated with a ritual of food, drink and poetry.
The Burns’ Supper was started by friends of Burns, a few years after his death in 1796, as a tribute to his memory, but it has also become a celebration of Scottishness, and, increasingly in Northern Ireland, America, and Canada of Scottish ancestry. It is important to note that Burns was also a Freemason and many of these celebrations are open to the public locally at Masonic Lodges.
Wherever you are, and however Scottish you are, you can join in with our recipes for the supper and a selection of the great man’s poems and songs.
Northern Ireland has its own tradition of poets in the Burns’ style, the weaver poets of Antrim and Down.
Who Was “Rabbie” Burns?
Born on 25th January 1759, in the parish of Alloway, Ayrshire, Burns was the eldest of seven children to William Burness and Agnes Brown (or Broun). Well educated in a variety of subjects, from Scottish history and folklore to literature, Burns was forced to assist his father in working on the family farm, and took over at 25 when his father died in 1784.

By 28, Burns was beginning to be well known in his literary career; In 1786 he published “Poems: Chiefly in Scottish Dialect”, which was expanded in 1787 and again in 1793 (Ibid.). Beginning in 1786, Burns would spend much time in Edinburgh among the elite and intellectuals of Scottish society, although Burns felt that they were only patronizing him because his soul of literary genius lied within the body of a country bumpkin. He returned to Ayrshire and unsuccessfully tried farming; in 1791 he became an exciseman, or customs agent, and joined the local yeomanry unit, the Dumfriesshire Volunteers. However, the physical and mental toll of his hard life, plus growing financial burdens, weakened him, and in 1796, Burns died of rheumatic heart disease, caused by his lack of a healthy diet in his younger years.

However, physical and financial matters were not the only things that troubled Robert; The Kirk of Scotland (The Presbyterian Church) and it’s opposition to his lifestyle was another. In particular, Burns’s sexual escapades caused much hostility between him and the church. Burns fathered a number of illegitimate children, including one by his future wife, Jean Armour, the daughter of a Master Mason. Burns wanted to marry Jean; her father refused and Burns and Jean appeared for penance in church to “receive public reproof for the sin of fornication” Burns would continue his rampant sexual activities right up until several years before his death. He never stopped his literary war against Scottish Calvinism, and lampooned it in a number of poems, including “Holy Willie’s Prayer”, “The Holy Fair”, and others.

Besides his rather libertine actions with women, Burns was also a political radical, and a rather strange mix at that. From reading Scottish history, Burns became an ardent nationalist, writing many romantic ballads about Scottish attempts to secure their independence from the English, from Robert the Bruce to Bonny Prince Charlie. This can be seen in poems like “Scots wha Hae”, “Charlie is My Darling”, “The White Cockade”, and many others.

Burns combined his Jacobite sympathies of the past with Jacobin politics of the present. He vocally supported the French and American Revolutions, which aroused suspicion of his loyalties, especially when in the service of His Majesty’s government as an exciseman, although Burns did recant his French tendencies when Britain and France went to war in 1792 . And while Burns may have been inspired by the French Revolution, his involvement in Freemasonry certainly played a large part in his opinions in favour of both secular and religious equity
He was only 37 when he died of heart disease but in that last year of his life he had written some of his most-respected works, such as The Lea Rig, Tam O’Shanter and O, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.

 

CELEBRATE BURNS NIGHT TODAY WITH A WEE DRAM AND A POEM

BURNS NIGHT 777

WEE DRAM 55555

BURNS NIGHT 555

Robert Burns poem and mural – Tam o; shanter

Burns Night

Thousands of people in the UK

Will be celebrating the life of Robert Burns

The celebrated poet of Scotland

Reading his poems in turns

Robert Burns born into a farming family

In Alloway, Ayrshire in 1759

He died at the age of 37years

On this earth for a very short time

Yet in that very short time

He took the Scottish literary by storm

Secured a place in history as a legend

From the day he was born

So as Burns night approaches

Let all celebrate his plight

By reading his wonderful work

Remembering his poetry on Burns Night

Malcolm G Bradshaw

Address to a Haggis

address to a haggis

This poem was written by Burns to celebrate his appreciation of the Haggis. As a result Burns and Haggis have been forever linked.

This particular poem is always the first item on the program of Burn’s suppers. The haggis is generally carried in on a silver salver at the start of the proceedings.

As it is brought to the table a piper plays a suitable, rousing accompaniment.

One of the invited artistes then recites the poem before the theatrical cutting of the haggis with the ceremonial knife.

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

Address to a Haggis Translation

Fair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!

Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old head of the table, most like to burst,
‘The grace!’ hums.

Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her vomit
With perfect disgust,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?

Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withered rush,
His thin legs a good whip-lash,
His fist a nut;
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He’ll make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will cut off
Like the heads of thistles.

You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery stuff,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But if you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her [Scotland] a Haggis!

By Robert Burns

To a Mouse – A Poem by Robert Burns -YOUR FAVOURITE POEM

mouse

(Written by Burns after he had turned over the nest of a tiny field mouse with his plough. Burns was a farmer and farmers are generally far too busy to be concerned with the health of mice. This poem is another illustration of Robert Burn’s tolerance to all creatures and his innate humanity.)

To a Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave ‘S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

YOUR FAVOURITE POEM

SENT IN BY YOU WHAT’S YOURS

Ode to cullen skink

cullen

Ode To Cullen Skink

 
Well, it’s the 252nd anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns today. Scotland’s national bard, or so we call him, was a farmer from the south of the country who had a beautiful way with the Scottish language, so much so that his works still mean a lot today. I might do an Audioboo of a favourite Burns poem tonight, depending on how much whisky I’ve had…

But for now, have one of mine. Taking inspiration from Burns by using a simple subject (and a little motivation from a friend, who suggested it), I wrote a poem about one of my favourite things. Enjoy.

Ode To Cullen Skink

Some like to use bay leaves, and some prefer thyme
A soupçon of vinegar, a splash of white wine
They reach out for luxury and brave double cream
And seek to make it more complex than it seems

But the skink is a strong and a mighty affair
It has no desire for these bourgeoisie airs
A broth of simplicity for hardworking men
A memory to take to their trawlers again

Take smoked Finnan haddies, and poach them a bit
Flake the fish from its skin, mash some tatties, and sit
Add it all back to the water, with enough milk to taste
Then season and eat; it’ll not go to waste!

The thick smoky warmth tastes just like coming home
So if there’s one thing to take from reading this poem
It’s that Cullen’s a small place, but they sure know a lot
About how to throw all of life’s joys in one pot.

Scottish Cullen Skink

 Smoked Haddock Chowder Recipe

Cullen is a small town in North east of Scotland and the home of one of Scotland’s most famous dishes, Cullen Skink which is a hearty soup and traditionally made with Finnan haddock (smoked haddock), potatoes and onions.In this recipe mashed potatoes are stirred into the soup creating thickness and flavour, some recipes however will add in scrubbed, new potatoes or potato chunks.Cullen Skink recipe is also known as Smoked Haddock Chowder in other parts of Britain as the recipe is very similar.

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ pints/700 ml milk
  • ½ cup/ small handful flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1lb /450g undyed, smoked haddock fillet
  • ½ stick/55g butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8oz/ 250g mashed potato, leftover or cooked fresh
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Serves 4

  • Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Remove the leaves from the parsley and add the stalks to the milk. Finely chop the leaves and keep to one side. Add the bay leaf and the haddock to the milk.
  • Bring the milk to a gentle boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 5 minutes for the herbs to infuse their flavour into the milk.
  • Remove the haddock from the milk with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve the herb-infused milk.
  • Heat the butter in another saucepan, add the onions and cook gently until translucent about 5 mins, taking care not to burn them.
  • Add the milk to the onions, then add the potato and stir until totally incorporated into the milk and should be a thick, creamy consistency.
  • Flake the smoked haddock into meaty chunks taking care to remove any bones you may find. Add to the soup.
  • Add the chopped parsley leaves to the soup and bring to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 4 – 5 minutes. Do not over stir. If over stirred then you will break up the fish too much.
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed, be careful with the salt, the fish will impart quite a salty flavour all on its own.
  • Serve hot with crusty bread.

Optional:
Garnish the soup with more chopped parsley or a little extra pepper as is your taste. Sometimes Cullen Skink is served with a softly poached hen’s egg on top for an even more filling soup or lightly poached quails eggs dropped into the soup before serving adds a touch of sophistication if you are serving the soup on a more formal occasion.

Occasionally, I also like to add a cup of cooked or warmed, canned sweetcorn before serving but this is not traditional for Cullen Skink, instead is more a Smoked Haddock Chowder just a personal preference

25th January Celebrate Burns night


robert-burns

Robert Burns

The Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life: a night to celebrate the life and works of the national Bard. Suppers can range from an informal gathering of friends to a huge, formal dinner full of pomp and circumstance. This running order covers all the key elements you need to plan and structure a Burns Supper that suits your intentions.

 
  • Piping in the guests

    A big-time Burns Night calls for a piper to welcome guests. If you don’t want all that baggage, some traditional music will do nicely. For more formal events, the audience should stand to welcome arriving guests: the piper plays until the high table is ready to be seated, at which point a round of applause is due. At a more egalitarian gathering – with no high table – the chair can simply bang on the table to draw attention to the start of the evening’s proceedings.

  • Chairman’s welcome

    The Chair (host/organiser) warmly welcomes and introduces the assembled guests and the evening’s entertainment.

  • The Selkirk Grace

    A short but important prayer read to usher in the meal, The Selkirk Grace is also known as Burns’s Grace at Kirkcudbright. Although the text is often printed in English, it is usually recited in Scots.

    		Some hae meat and canna eat,
    		And some wad eat that want it,
    		But we hae meat and we can eat,
    		And sae the Lord be thankit.
  • Piping in the haggis

    Piping in the haggisGuests should normally stand to welcome the dinner’s star attraction, which should be delivered on a silver platter by a procession comprising the chef, the piper and the person who will address the Haggis. A whisky-bearer should also arrive to ensure the toasts are well lubricated.

    During the procession, guests clap in time to the music until the Haggis reaches its destination at the table. The music stops and everyone is seated in anticipation of the address To a Haggis.

  • Address to the haggis

    The honoured reader now seizes their moment of glory by offering a fluent and entertaining rendition of To a Haggis. The reader should have his knife poised at the ready. On cue (His knife see Rustic-labour dight), he cuts the casing along its length, making sure to spill out some of the tasty gore within (trenching its gushing entrails).

    Warning: it is wise to have a small cut made in the haggis skin before it is piped in. Instances are recorded of top table guests being scalded by flying pieces of haggis when enthusiastic reciters omitted this precaution! Alternatively, the distribution of bits of haggis about the assembled company is regarded in some quarters as a part of the fun…

    The recital ends with the reader raising the haggis in triumph during the final line Gie her a haggis!, which the guests greet with rapturous applause.

  • Toast to the haggis

    Prompted by the speaker, the audience now joins in the toast to the haggis. Raise a glass and shout: The haggis! Then it’s time to serve the main course with its traditional companions, neeps and tatties. In larger events, the piper leads a procession carrying the opened haggis out to the kitchen for serving; audience members should clap as the procession departs.


  • The meal

    Served with some suitable background music, the sumptuous Bill o’ Fare includes:-

    • Starter

      Traditional cock-a-leekie soup;

    • Main course

      Haggis, neeps & tatties (Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties);

    • Sweet

      Clootie Dumpling (a pudding prepared in a linen cloth or cloot) or Typsy Laird (a Scottish sherry trifle);

    • Cheeseboard with bannocks (oatcakes) and tea/coffee.

    Variations do exist: beef lovers can serve the haggis, neeps & tatties as a starter with roast beef or steak pie as the main dish. Vegetarians can of course choose vegetarian haggis, while pescatarians could opt for a seafood main course such as Cullen Skink.

     

  • The drink

    Liberal lashings of wine or ale should be served with dinner and it’s often customary to douse the haggis with a splash of whisky sauce, which, with true Scots understatement, is neat whisky.

    After the meal, it’s time for connoisseurs to compare notes on the wonderful selection of malts served by the generous chair.


  • The first entertainment

    The nervous first entertainer follows immediately after the meal. Often it will be a singer or musician performing Burns songs such as:-

    Alternatively it could be a moving recital of a Burns poem, with perennial preference for:-

  • The immortal memory

    The keynote speaker takes the stage to deliver a spell-binding oratoration on the life of Robert Burns: his literary genius, his politics, his highs and lows, his human frailty and – most importantly – his nationalism. The speech must bridge the dangerous chasm between serious intent and sparkling wit, painting a colourful picture of Scotland’s beloved Bard.

    The speaker concludes with a heart-felt toast: To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns!

  • The second entertainment

    The chair introduces more celebration of Burns’ work, preferably a poem or song to complement the earlier entertainment.

  • Toast to the Lassies

    The humorous highlight of any Burns Night comes in this toast, which is designed to praise the role of women in the world today. This should be done by selective quotation from Burns’s works and should build towards a positive note. Particular reference to those present makes for a more meaningful toast

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